Begich, Klobuchar, Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce Bill to Fight Homelessness Among America’s Veterans
16 percent of all homeless adults in U.S. are veterans
Legislation would strengthen program that provides housing and case management services to homeless veterans
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Scott Brown (R-MA), Mark Begich (D-AK), James Inhofe (R-OK), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Robert Casey (D-PA), and John Cornyn (R-TX) have introduced bipartisan legislation that would help fight homelessness among America’s veterans. The Helping Our Homeless Veterans Act would improve outreach to rural and underserved urban veterans by strengthening the existing HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program that provides chronically homeless veterans with housing vouchers and case management services, such as assistance accessing counseling and job training. A national study released earlier this month found that about 16 percent of all homeless adults are veterans, even though veterans make up only 10 percent of the adult population.
“The men and women of our Armed Forces raised their right hands and proudly wore the uniform of this country, and at the very least, they deserve a home,” Klobuchar said. “When we ask our men and women to fight and sacrifice in defense of our nation, we make a promise that we’re going to give them the support they need when they come home. This legislation would create partnerships to help extend essential services to homeless veterans who are currently living on the streets or in shelters.”
“Homelessness is a problem facing too many of our brave veterans and their families today, and this bipartisan legislation is an important step toward addressing this unacceptable situation,” said Brown. “After nearly a decade of war, we need to do everything we can to give our returning veterans the tools and resources to afford housing. Our bill encourages the Veterans Administration to partner with local communities to tackle the unique challenges of homelessness, and I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing it.”
“I’ve committed to doing all I can to deliver the programs and services we promised our veterans who have served our country so honorably. The very least we can do is make sure they have a place to live when they come home,” Begich said. “I am pleased to co-sponsor this legislation which is designed to give veterans, particularly in rural areas, more opportunities for housing, job training and other services to improve their quality of life.”
Inhofe said, “With the increase of our nation’s veterans being displaced on the street, this new legislation is essential to providing them with the care they deserve. Under this new legislation, the Department of Veterans Affairs will have the ability to extend their services to homeless veterans in rural and underserved urban areas that are often overlooked. These veterans have dedicated their lives to preserving our nation’s freedom and we cannot abandon them in their time of need.”
“We have an obligation to help those who served their county and protected our freedoms,” said Casey. “This legislation would assist homeless veterans in rural communities in accessing vital VA services that often remain out of reach.”
“I’m proud to cosponsor this bill, which will help reduce the prevalence of homelessness among the men and women who have worn our nation’s military uniform. Texas is proud that one in ten American troops calls the state home, but we can do more to help ensure Texas veterans have a physical place to call home after their military service is complete. America’s veterans sacrificed a great deal for our country while in uniform, and they deserve our respect and our support in the ensuing years,” Cornyn said.
Last year the VA made a commitment to end veteran homelessness by 2015. This legislation would help the VA extend services to the rural and underserved urban veterans who need them most.
The Helping Our Homeless Veterans Act would authorize and encourage the VA to partner with eligible state and local governments, tribes, and community-based service providers to ensure homeless veterans have access to HUD-VASH housing vouchers and case management services. The bill does not require additional funding and would allow the VA to establish an application process to let eligible community providers apply to partner with the VA.
The legislation is endorsed by 19 veterans and social service organizations. They include:
• Veterans of Foreign Wars
• American Legion
• Disabled Veterans of America
• Paralyzed Veterans of America
• Vietnam Veterans of America
• Military Officers Association of America
• National Association of County Veterans Service Officers
• Veterans of Modern Warfare
• VetsFirst (a program of United Spinal Association)
• Student Veterans of America
• National Guard Association
• Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV)
• Heading Home Minnesota
• National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
• National Alliance to End Homelessness
• Corporation for Supportive Housing
• National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
• Common Ground
• National Leased Housing Association
Posted: February 24, 2011